Senior weight gain. Fat, protein, fiber,etc?

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by Mackenzie M, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. Mackenzie M

    Mackenzie M Senior Member

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    I'm trying to find out what else I can do to put weight on 2 of my senior horses. One more so then the other.

    Horse #1: coming 29yr 15.2h NSH gelding. Teeth checked once a year and all is good for his age. Lives outside 24/7 with a run-in. Free choice round bales with a slow feed net and auto waterer. He is currently on 12lbs of Tributes Kalm Ultra split into 2 feedings. He has been hard to keep weight on for years, though does better in the winter oddly enough. Very much still ride able, but hasn't been in work for over a year as its not worth the weight that he loses.

    Fecal has been done and he is clean. No ulcers per vet. Dominant horse in the pasture, so not being run off of the hay. Fed out of a grain bag, so I know he is getting all 12lbs of his grain a day. He does have a goiter/thyroid issues and is on iodine for it (have tried Thyro-L but it causes frequent bouts of colic for him). The last year he has had very watery manure, not diarrhea, just excess water after passing manure (his bum and tail end up quite dirty all the time). There seems to be no correlation with the watery manure and weight loss, just a side note. The vet has no answers on this and from my recent searches I found that it may be, Fecal Water Syndrome?
    I will be starting him on turmeric as I feel maybe it will help his general health.

    Should I be looking for a feed with more fat, fiber, or protein? Alfalfa pellets/cubes, beat pulp, etc. I have tried in the past and to be honest, he's not a huge fan of beat pulp or alfalfa pellets, but I am willing to try again.

    He is a horse that will randomly not finish his grain here and there or choose just not to eat at all for a particular feeding. I've found that if I switch up his herd or pasture, it seems to throw him off and will take a week or 2 before he starts eating his grain consistently again. I think he has cushings, but my vet disagrees. Even if I were to put him on the meds, one of the main side effects is not eating, so doesn't seem worth the risk.
    Even with the 12lbs of kalm ultra, he still isn't where id like him to be weight wise. Not emaciated, but never far off from being able to see ribs

    Horse #2: 22yr 17hand TB gelding. Teeth checked yearly and floated. He had to have 2 lower incisors pulled this past spring as they must have gotten caught on something or kicked. The others seemed to be fine at the time, but I noticed at end of summer that they must haven fallen out as he only has 2 incisors left on the bottom :eek: (possible damage to the roots of the others as to why they fell out later) This actually has not seemed to effect his weight at all, but I want to be cautious. Dominant in his field and fed out of a grain bag

    Fecals done as well and wormed accordingly. Free choice hay and turn out 24/7, etc.
    12lbs of Tribute Kalm Ultra split into 2 feedings. He maintains fairly well with this, unlike my older guy, but it sure seems like a lot of grain


    Sorry for the book. I tried to give all info that I can think of at the moment. Considering adding extra Vit E to both of their diets
     
  2. palogal

    palogal Senior Member

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    I feed my senior Safe Choice Senior. It's worked great for him. He's kept his weight through the blistering Texas summer and the winter.
     
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  3. DocsLglyBlonde

    DocsLglyBlonde Senior Member

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    That grain is quite high in NSC (23%). A high fat, moderate protein, low NSC feed is best in my opinion for seniors. They cannot metabolize sugars as well, and can then get hind gut acidosis which can cause the water with manure. I'd switch to something low NSC for both, and run a bag of Equisure through the one with liquid+manure. I'd test for Cushing's as well. If you start at 1/4 pill and very, very slowly build up to an appropriate dose of Prascend, you will often avoid the "veil" and inappetence. It is 100% worth it to check for Cushing's and medicate if indicated I'm and push your vet to do so - I was going to suggest testing based on symptoms before I got to that part of your OP.

    I love TC Senior. It is high fiber, high fat, mod protein, low NSC, and alfalfa based rather than soy and wheat based (there is some soy but the alfalfa and BP are the bulk of the fiber and protein source). I think you may end up spending more per bag but may need to feed less #/day saving you in the long run. Beyond switching grain, adding alfalfa if the horses tolerate it is always a good idea to up protein and caloric intake, and add a little stomach buffer as well.
     
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  4. Mcdreamer

    Mcdreamer Senior Member

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    If you suspect cushings then I would order a test. Every horse once they reach a certain age should get tested regularly because in my opinion, cushings seems to be everywhere. I had a mare in my program that started dropping weight and overall looked like garbage. She was only 17 and I had her tested even thought she had NO typical signs of cushings. She had the exact opposite of the shaggy coat (had another mare test for cushings too and also didn't have a shaggy coat--they both had a rather short peach fuzz coat). In my experience, cushings has never presented to me with the typical symptoms. Once we started treating the mare with prascend, she bounced back super quick. Make sure they use the stimulation test, though. Way more accurate.
    I would switch to a senior grain too. Safe Choice and TC both are good options. I also had good luck with the supplement Weight Boost (or something like that) Green lid. Weight Builder! That was it.
     
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  5. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    What you describe('fluid' around/after the horse passes manure) is typically due to colitis. "Colitis" means inflammation of the colon. It is not always possible to stop it, especially with older horses.

    Generally, a 29 year old horse has put a lot of wear-and-tear on his teeth over the years. At this point in the wear process, teeth have a tendency to break, crack, and get caries (decay). The changes to his teeth and his overall systems that mean he is less able to digest forage, especially coarser forage such as hay. Round bales may have coarser, stemmier hay and be even harder for the horse to digest. For a while, a 'softer', leafier hay might help. He may also have leg problems (usually nothing more than arthritis in several joints). Less mobility due to leg problems also can interfere with digestion.

    Easy-to-chew forms of forage can help such an animal and will lessen irritation to the colon. If it gets to the point where the animal cannot hold weight and he is experiencing discomfort from deterioration of teeth and poor digestion, and no change in diet has any effect, it probably is time to consider euthanizing the horse.

    The 29 year old horse could have Cushing Syndrome, but at his advanced age, medication might not help much. My horse was 27 1/2 when the medication stopped improving his quality of life(or having any effect at all). Since the horse is now 29 and has not yet been diagnosed, his Cushing Syndrome is probably very advanced at this point. I'm not sure if treating it would help at this point.

    Recent studies have found that half of horses over 15 have some amount of Cushing Syndrome. So it's likely that in the near future, vets will start recommending that horses over 15 get tested for Cushing Syndrome.

    The 22 year old horse might have a very different situation from the 29 year old. Many 22 year old horses have been well-cared-for, not over-used, and are quite healthy at 22. Unfortunately that's not always the case, but without seeing him no one can guess 'what kind of 22 he is.'

    He's not as old as the other horse so generally, his weight and condition should be much easier to address. Perhaps you need to buy better quality hay, get his teeth done by an expert such as a veterinarian with a dental specialty practice, replace some of his hay with soaked beet pulp-based feeds or provide some oil for additional calories, provide healthy sources of calories like fortified bagged feeds (extruded feeds are easier to chew and digest).

    In a perfect world, my answer to everything always was 'feed more hay.' That's touted as the most 'natural' approach and most of us old timers run around insisting that hay is the answer, always and forever, amen. I don't. Not always. Not any more. I have a horse that came to my barn at 6 with right dorsal colitis. It was mild then, but only got worse with time. And these horses with colitis, they OFTEN just cannot handle that much hay; some can't eat dry forage at all. For a while soaking the hay may be sufficient to tame the colitis, but as time goes on the colon becomes more and more infiltrated with inflammatory cells. And that causes the colon to do its job less and less well as time goes on.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
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  6. CarlisleChipper

    CarlisleChipper Senior Member+

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    One and only. It is a complete feed for senior horses. Absolutely AMAZING results.
    Wendlands Welcomes You
     
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  7. Mackenzie M

    Mackenzie M Senior Member

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    The 29yr old actually has pretty good teeth for his age, not as much wear as one might think. He does have two "Cavities", evenly one on each side, but they do not cause any problems. My horses are checked yearly by a very knowledgeable equine dentist. He does not seem to be in any sort of discomfort at all, just a hard keeper. Though I will not say that he does not have arthritis at his age, he gets around wonderfully and gallops the field with the young mares that he lives with. Mobility has never been an issue with him.
    As for the hay/round bales. It is quite soft (not the usual course stems that we find around here) and of good quality. Not saying that its perfect, but I don't think its a massive problem. I can most definitely add in some alfalfa pellets to his feed. Usually I would automatically soak it, but our temps are in the single digits and bellow. I wonder if I can get away with feeding it dry for a short time?
    I agree, I am almost certain that he has cushings. I was wondering the same thing, if meds would be of any help to him anymore with his age. Even with his weight issues and his age, I would not say he is a candidate for euthanasia at this point. He is very full of life, happy, and in no sort of pain. Again, he is not so skinny as to where he looks emaciated by any means. When it comes time to make that decision, I will do what is best for him.

    As for the 22yr old. If he didn't have a tattoo to confirm his age, I would never guess him a day over 12! We have dealt with lameness/navicular in the past, but no real signs of arthritis yet (per vet on last x-rays). Would alfalfa pellets or beet pulp be better for weight gain? I currently have them both on Tributes Kalm Ultra, but would there be a better product in the tribute line that I could try instead? It is hard for me to get many other brands besides Tribute, some Purina, and possibly Safe Choice.
    Thank you!
     
  8. Mackenzie M

    Mackenzie M Senior Member

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    Anyone else? Thoughts on a different kind of grain to try?
     
  9. equinitis

    equinitis Senior Member

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    Alfalfa all the way. I have a 25 year old gelding that also had watery manure and trouble maintaining weight while on pasture. He developed a sensitivity to wheat a couple of years ago and then started dropping weight in the pasture. I had a fecal done and de-wormed for tapes per the vet and started him on straight alfalfa. He re-gained the weight pretty quickly but seemed to have trouble chewing the hay even though it was very good alfalfa and fine stemmed. His teeth are OK but he does have somewhat of a wave mouth so I switched him to alfalfa pellets last year and that is all he is eating. He is fat and sassy on about 30lbs of pellets per day, 2 feedings. I don't soak the pellets, he eats them dry right now but I am watching him closely and am prepared to start soaking them if he starts having trouble. I feed the little bitty pellets, they look like rabbit food, so they are easy for him to chew and not any bigger than the pellets in processed "grains". He still has watery manure occasionally but he is doing very well and is still ridden in parades and around the home pasture regularly.

    If he is not crazy about them, you could try adding something he likes and then weaning it off a little at a time. I used alfalfa pellets on my TB mare to fatten her up and she would not eat them at first so I top dressed them with a splash of molasses, using less and less each feeding, until she was eating the pellets like gang busters! I never had a problem with the gelding above, he will eat anything that does not eat him first.

    It has been my experience that more hay/roughage is more effective for weight gain/maintenance than grain is. Alfalfa being the best I have found to do that. I worried the pellets would not have enough fiber for him but my vet told me equines only need fiber in 1/4" lengths to be effective. I had to prove to myself there was 1/4" fibers in those pellets so soaked some apart and measured! Eureka! It has worked well.
     
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  10. Mackenzie M

    Mackenzie M Senior Member

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    Thank You!! I will most definitely start him on alfalfa pellets.

    I'm wondering if I should keep him on the Tribute Kalm Ultra and adjust accordingly or if I should try something different all together.
    I have access to:
    Tributes Kalm N EZ (14% Protein 8%Fat 20%Fiber 13.5%NSC)
    Triumph Senior (14%Protein 7%Fat 16%Fiber 16%NSC)
    SafeChoice Senior (14%Protein 8%Fat 16%Fiber 14%NSC)
    Tribute Seniority (14% Protein 6%Fat 18%Fiber 18%NSC)
     

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